For Impact


3 Tips For Board Engagement

Leadership and Boards | | Tom Suddes

Here is a SIMPLE way to deal with one of the biggest issues facing FOR IMPACT


We have been involved in hundreds of Board Meetings, Board Retreats and Board Planning Sessions. And, we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of our training participants ask for more help with How to Deal with Their Board.

We hope this helps.

We have found the best way to look at your Board is based upon 3 A’s:


    • Where (at what ‘ALTITUDE’) are the majority of your Board Members focused at the moment?*Where should they be focused?*We’ve heard so many horror stories of Board members actually dropping down to 3″! (Yes, inches!) They’re concerned about the brand of cola you’re using in your vending machines!Try sharing this ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK with your Board to facilitate a discussion about their role, responsibility and engagement.For what it’s worth, we believe:
      • Your Board, as a collective whole, should be engaged only at 30,000′ around the Vision and the Message and Goals… all at the highest level.
      • Individual Board Members should be engaged as individuals and part of a smaller group to help at the 14,000′ STRATEGY level. They should be engaged based upon their own particular talents and strengths. (Left brain, financial, ‘numbers’ people should be helping with budgets, etc. Right brained, creative entrepreneurial types should be working on strategic partnerships, new delivery mechanisms, etc.)
      • No one should be involved in the ‘details’ of the EXECUTION.***This does not mean that some of your Board will not actually be engaged in some of the work that you do (around both your IMPACT and your INCOME). They’re doing that as part of the team, not as MICRO-MANAGERS!
  2. Here is a very simple ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK that we use in all of our discussions with Boards. We also incorporate it into our presentation design, in meetings and in our planning process.

    30,000′ The WHY VISION
    14,000′ The WHAT STRATEGY

    Think about this as it relates to your Board.

  3. ATTITUDE. ‘ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING’… and the Attitude of your Board, as well as your Attitude towards your Board, are, literally, everything!
    • If you feed your Board every detail and reams of minutiae at Board Meetings… then that will be their ‘ATTITUDE’.
    • When you have the incredibly outdated ATTITUDE of “Every Board members need to GIVE or GET…” Or, “My Board is responsible for fundraising. They’re supposed to be getting me money…” Then they believe the only reason you want them engaged is for ‘MONEY’!
    • If your ATTITUDE re: helping with the fundraising is “Give us names,” then, Nick would say, “How’s that working for you?”Special Note: Here are our 3 ROLES for your Board:
      1. CHAMPION… your CAUSE.
      2. INVITE… others to get ENGAGED.
  4. ACTION.
    • Get the ‘right people on the bus’ (Board)…
      and wrong people off the bus (Board).
    • Change the way you run your meetings! (Use Altitude Framework.)
    • Visit with each Board Member and go over their 3 roles!!!
  5. Here are 3 ideas for immediate action:

Special Note: Here’s a great list of QUESTIONS to engage your Board at the highest level (vs. handing out multi-page, smallest text possible ‘committee reports’).